Canadian firm 5468796 Architecture has been honoured with a prestigious ar+d Award for Emerging Architecture 2012 by Architectural Review magazine in the UK for work by architects under the age of 45. 5468796’s Bloc_10 housing project in Winnipeg was one of four first-prize winners, selected from over 250 entries from around the world. At an awards ceremony in London England last week, 5468796 Architecture received £2,500, a quarter share of the £10,000 prize fund.
The winning design is a low-budget, 10-unit housing project that strives to reimagine and reinvent the market-driven condominium. The building is modelled after a “white-box” concept: each buyer purchases an unfinished unit with basic plumbing, heating and electrical systems installed, allowing them to decide which rooms and finishes they would like on each floor. 5468796 challenged traditional townhouse layouts with apartments that cross from one side of the building to the other as they ascend over three levels. This arrangement provides every unit with north and south views, and transforms eight into corner suites. In addition, 5468796 maximized the usable area of the site by cantilevering six-foot-deep projections on alternating floors to expand rooms, create balconies and provide support for the wooden, vertical-slat privacy screen that wraps the building’s exterior. The screen provides privacy and shade for homeowners, and helps mitigate traffic noise. The screen’s sheer texture unifies the façade and gives Bloc_10 a distinctive identity within the city.
This is the third honour for Bloc_10. In December 2010 the project was awarded a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence, and in May 2012 the project was distinguished with a Governor General’s Medal for Design Excellence. According to 5468796 principal Colin Neufeld, “We are delighted to see that Winnipeg architecture is gaining international attention and to receive such prestigious awards for a project based on practicality for our client.”
Representing the ar+d Award jury, Architectural Review’s Editor in Chief declared, “This scheme for housing takes a much belied building type and gives it a sense of dignity and delight. It also points the way forward to a genuinely new form of housing.”